Here's one lobster that won't be heading to the dinner table any time soon. "Lola" (as she has been named) is an amazing, record-breaking specimen. She's a four-pound, six-clawed lobster that was pulled from the waters of Hyannis, Mass. Rather than head to market, Lola is currently on display at the Maine State Aquarium in West Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
Lola has one normal claw on her right side and five claws on the left, organized in a pattern similar to a starfish or a human hand. The claws don't look very functional, but they do not appear to have gotten in the way of Lola's survival. The massive crustacean, estimated to be about 10 years old, was named by Peter Brown, captain of the fishing vessel F/V Rachel Leah. (You may remember the boat from the Discovery Channel TV show "Lobster Wars.")
Although odd lobsters like this show up from time to time, marine scientist David Libby told the Bangor Daily News that Lola's discovery is a unique experience in his 40 years of working with the animals. "Sometimes the genes will get a little mixed and it will grow a funny claw," he said. "But I've never seen anything like this."
The Maine State Aquarium (which is located just a few miles from this reporter's home) draws about 35,000 visitors a year, many of whom come to see its collection of unusual lobsters. In addition to Lola, the facility has blue-and-orange lobsters and even lobsters that display unique mixes of colors. One lobster that came to the aquarium in 2010 had one blue claw, a few blue legs and touches of blue on its tail and underbelly. Not only that, it was a hermaphrodite.
"We're kind of the place for unusual lobsters," aquarium Manager Aimee Hayden-Roderiques told the Bangor Daily News. "We think the colored ones are about one in a million, but there's no way to know."
Lola will be on display through Sept. 29. After that, it's uncertain what may happen to her. Hayden-Roderiques says the extra claws may or may not last after Lola's next molting. The manager told WMTW that genetic mutations like this sometimes last for entire lifetimes but in other cases "sometimes this happens during a regeneration from a damaged or lost claw."
Although Lola's mutant claws make her exceptional, her size – though bigger than what you might find at a Maine lobster shack or the supermarket – is hardly a record. The Maine State Aquarium has several much, much larger lobsters on display, including one that that weighs an astonishing 23 pounds.
Related on MNN: